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William B. Swann

by Susan J. Ainsworth
August 19, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 33

William B. Swann, 89, a retired analytical chemist, died on Aug. 9, 2012.

A native of Philadelphia, Swann received a B.S. in chemistry in 1943 from St. Joseph’s College (now St. Joseph’s University). After serving in the Navy during World War II, Swann received an M.S. in chemistry in 1953 from the University of Delaware and a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1963 from the University of Pennsylvania.

Swann worked as an analytical chemist for Socony Mobil Oil and American Viscose, which became part of FMC in the 1960s. He served as head of FMC’s analytical laboratories until he retired.

Swann’s research focused on gas chromatography and polarography.

Throughout his career, Swann served as an adjunct chemistry professor at St. Joseph’s College, Bucks County Community College, and Widener University. He was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1948.

He enjoyed performing magic shows, and he constructed a functional gas chromatograph in the basement of his home.

Swann is survived by his daughter Connie; a son, William Jr.; six granddaughters; and eight great-grandchildren. His wife, Marguerite, and daughter Karen predeceased him.

Obituary notices of no more than 300 words may be sent to Susan J. Ainsworth at and should include an educational and professional history.


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